Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Visual Journals?????

Ok... so, If I'm going to be part of this thing called Visual Journaling, Sketchbook Challenge, whatever, I've gotta post stuff... even if I'm not so proud of it yet.  It's kinda challenging to just let go and let the images appear out of the junk I apply to the surface.  Mystele calls it "GUT ART" and I'm digging it. Please don't judge... these are my first attempts.

This gal looks kinda scary, but she was in there, in the face of the turquoise tissue paper I stuck down.
 This one is not done yet... I'm liking the whimsical nature. I'll be journaling all over the place.
 These two gals are just me practicing.
 I've been taking my hubby to medical appointments... this one I did while waiting a few hours in the parking lot.
 And this one is about counting my blessings.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Writing Practice - Mindful Meditation

I've reset a new (old!) intention to writing Morning Pages (Julia Cameron) or Writing Practice (Natalie Goldberg). Not that I'm going to spill my guts here, but just to put out the intention, to solidify the practice into my bones.

Speaking of "bones", if you aspire to write, a novel, your memoir, morning pages, etc. You'll enjoy reading or listening to "Writing Down the Bones" by Natalie Goldberg. I've been listening to the audio version for the past several weeks, tuning in here and there, just picking up pieces of golden wisdom. Let me know what you think of her writing.

Speaking of "bones"... I'm sharing Natalie Goldberg's wonderful podcast "Writing as a Spiritual Practice":
Enjoy! Namaste

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Practical Gladness - Awesome SARK in person at Capitola Bookstore

What an amazing and wonderful evening on Thursday! SARK, aka Susan Kennedy, spoke at Capitola Bookshop. Her topic was based on her recent book: Glad No Matter What.

A perfect timing for me... helped me get a better perspective on handling my current care-giving role.

So, I'm heading for "Happy Land", it's all in one's mind. Being real is important, of course. But if I can manage my thoughts and feelings by focusing on what DOES work in my life, and on MY BLESSINGS, an attitude of gratitude... it's the first step.

Thank you SARK

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

1st Draft "The Talk"

Brrrr... it's cold outside! Seems it's hard to get warmed up.  It's been a challenging few weeks since my hubby has been having health challenges, dizzy spells, memory loss, etc. I'm his chief caregiver, so it's changed the dynamics of my life considerably. I'm no longer in school full time, but I have kept on with my writing class.

Marcy Alancraig is the most amazing teacher! She's been patient with my absences, all the while encouraging my writing. Writing is something I can do while I'm in waiting rooms! 

So, I actually have started to write a novel! Wow! Me!  So, I'm sharing a piece that I wrote, actually at a Zen Writing retreat with Maxine .....(I'll come back to her last name). It's a memory piece from the talks my mom and I would have. It fits in perfectly with my story as a flashback of my main character, Jean. This is my first draft, so any critique or comment is so appreciated! Thanks for reading!

It's the morning after her husband's funeral and Jean is expecting a young man for coffee....

Glancing at the clock, Jean noticed she had twenty minutes or so to relax before he was due. She ground the Starbuck’s French Roast beans, the favorite of both her and Jim.  Then, she smiled at that wonderful fragrance of brewing coffee. There was such comfort in the rich aroma as the coffee made it’s gurgling sounds as it began to drip. What was it about the smells and sounds of brewing coffee that just seemed to lead to meaningful conversations.

Just like that she was transported in memory to the sounds of her mother’s kitchen, the double metal click of the old Frigidaire, or the cracking sounds of the oven as it was warming up to cook their Friday tuna casserole. But the most familiar sound was the sound if her mom brewing coffee on the gas stove. Before they could afford an electric percolator or later, a Mr. Coffee drip system, her mom would put the Folgers grounds in a basket inside the pot, always starting with cold water. (Jean never did find out why cold water.) Then there was the waiting as the coffee begin to perk. Little bursts of amber liquid bubbling in the glass top, increasing faster and faster until just a bit would sputter out of the pour spout to dance on the hot burner beneath.

Her mom would pour the fresh steaming coffee into one of their green Fireking mugs, the ones they bought with their Blue Chip stamps. Then she’d add two heaping teaspoons of sugar, the sound of the sugar bowl lid, another sound memory. The milk that was added to the coffee came from the can of Pet Evaporated milk. Her mom would use the bottle-can opener to puncture the top of the can, making a triangular hole on one side, then just the teensiest hole on the opposite side that would allow the milk to pour without sputtering.  The coffee ritual would always end with the sound of the spoon stirring the creamy light tan liquid. Her mom could always tell if the portion of milk to coffee was right, just by the lightness of the liquid. Every once in a while, little white lumps would appear in the cup, signifying that the milk had gone bad and was curdling in the cup. But most often, the mixture was just right and the sounds would end with a clink as the spoon was laid down on the red flecked Formica table.

But before the mother daughter talks would begin, her mom had yet another ritual that was a bitter sweet memory for Jean.  Her mom was a heavy smoker and regardless of countless tries to quit, she never could.  That is what took her life at a too early age. But, when her mom had both a cup of coffee and her cigarette Jean could count on her mom to really listen to her.

Her mom’s “smokes” had their own unique set of sound sensations. If the package was fresh, there was the tearing of the top of the cellophane wrapper that guaranteed the freshness of the tobacco. Her mom had beautiful, elegantly manicured fingernails, painted “Cherries in the Snow” by Revlon. A long finger nail would catch the underside of the little tab then her other fingers would grasp and pull the long tab. She’d always stop short of completely separating the long ripped off piece, so that it dangled off the end of the rectangular top that was then discarded.

The Raleigh package hosted an addition benefit. Redeemable stamps and coupons were the rage in the fifties. Most adults had lived through the hard time of the depression, so the offer of merchandise, in exchange for a collection of stamps, Blue Chip and Green Stamps, or coupons from packages of cigarettes, was quite a value. It took her mother’s long red index fingernail to slide between the coupon and the package itself, freeing it from the tiny tacky glue spot that kept it in place. 

When her mother pulled the coupon from it’s place she often hand it to Jean to put in the kitchen junk drawer to be counted later. Jean loved counting those coupons, putting them in stacks of 10s. But even more, she loved pasting the sheets of Green Stamps or Blue Chip stamps into the little books. Mom wouldn’t let her lick the stamps, although she really loved the way the flavor lingured on her tongue!  The “proper way” was to fold a wet dishrag placing it on a saucer. There was usually about fifty stamps to a page that would be pressed onto the wet rag, little beads of moisture poking up through the perforations. They had bought the entire set of “Twin Star” stainless steel flatware with only three books of Blue Chip stamps!

Extracting the first cigarette had a sound of it’s own. The open side of the pack would show four cigarettes, all smooshed tight together. Her mom would hold a finger against two cigarettes and then thump the pack against the silver rim of the Formica table. The two end cigarettes would begin to poke out and her mom would grasp one then thunk the pack on the table again, this time pushing the other one in.

The Ronson lighter was a shiny silver color that had its own unique metallic click as it was flicked open. The mother’s thumb would rapidly rotate the little wheel that would strike the flint that caused the spark to catch the fumes of the lighter fluid as the flame shot up and inch or so.
Her mother would raise the lighter to the cigarette dangling from her lips. Drawing a deep breath, the end of the cigarette would respond with an angry red glow. The lighter would be snapped closed and gently placed on top of the pack that held the remaining nineteen cigarettes. The acrid smoke would twist and curl, a thin veil in front of her mother’s face, as her mother took a sip of her coffee she’d focus right on little Jean’s face and say “Tell me what’s going on honey.” And, the talking would begin.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

One of my favorites....

Please check her out and see her adorable green kitty!
Gotta love the woman! and the kitty!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mandala update

Well, it's still not complete. But I wanted to share the progress here. This was last week at Yosemite. You'll see my traveling Art Camper! I spent several days in this lovely spot right across the Merced river from El Capitan.  One day a fox trotted right by the van!  It was such a lovely and tranquil place to set up my art studio for a day!

This is the first stage.....
My wonderful picnic area!

A little closer look....

A close up look, but it's still a long way from completion!

Here is the (lengthy!) critique I wrote for my art class:

Chris Flynn                                                                               Critique
Pattern Painting – Motif Decorative

Design:  My first idea was to create a large mandala, using four 15” cradle boards that would hang together, maybe ½” apart.  “The economy of paper” rang in my ears, so I decided to paint the mandala on paper first then adhere to the boards (if good enough).

Working it out: I had planned to do a photo transfer of a Madonna I painted earlier this year, placing her head towards the center of the circle, directly on the prepared wood surface. Unfortunately, the transfer process looked yucky on paper. Instead, I carefully traced the head, painted each quarter, then placed them together. (Actually, I played around with the image in Photoshop, and loved the happy accident that inspired her being a Black Madonna.) Unfortunately, the veils didn’t match up, so I painted over all four, matching veil points, which created the four point star in the middle. 

Liking my photoshopped image, she seemed to want to stay a Black Madonna… but I loved adding in the blue, green, and aqua glazes to contour her face. Almost left her eyes red, but I am happy with the “piercing” quality that turned out. I also liked the way not painting her hair allowed the red to form another pattern, that of an arch. I repeated that arch along the outer circle both in the upside down looking tulip and the church-like arch the stamped image sits under.

I drew three concentric circles using a string, to balance and place the objects. I let myself be ok for overlaps.

I had planned to paint the main circle a bright red and cover it with the new “Renessance Gold” by WindsorNewton. And, that turned out yucky too.  I didn’t want to go to the expense of gold leaf, plus it’s not a mixed media piece, so instead, I layered at least three glazes of Cad Red, mixed with Glaze Medium. I love the thickness of the underpainting.

The Ren Gold never met any of my expectations, so I switched to Yellow Oxide, nice and deeply saturated. Still, the halo didn’t pop the way I wanted so the Hansa Yellow helped as an accent.

Painting her face and both placing and painting her hands was the most tedious part. For some reason, all the little images, dots and dashes, circles and triangles, turned into a mindless meditation. I was sitting in a day-use picnic area along the Merced River at Yosemite. Squirels bombed me with acorns all day, and a beautiful fox trotted by! I’d just pick up one section and lay in what ever color or design appealed to me.  Wasn’t happy with the green shapes along the outside, plus the little stamped image was lost, even though painted in turquoise. So adding the hansa yellow highlights, circles and outlines, plus painting more Cad red shapes, seemed to make those images pop more too.  I played with the colors by standing way back and imaging what would balance the piece.

Hours and hours later… I still feel it’s not as done as I’d like. What I would like, is tiny painted designs that have symbolism and meaning that all hang together to create a meditative mandala. What I’ve learned is that my hand shakes too much, and I’m lousy at painting a straight line, let alone a defined perfect design!  If I stand back and blur my eyes, I like it…. But when I look up close and remember what I wanted to do, I see a shaky hand that has trouble with definition.

Symbolism: Well, the Madonna was actually taken from a painting I did, inspired by a Catholic Holy card of Mother Mary. I don’t think she minded morphing into a black Madonna. Her hands, in the second circle, all reach out, as though reaching out to the world. In between her hands is a triangular shape that represents the womb, representing birthing of creation, humans, creativity, etc. (It could mean allot of things I guess!)

I created the outer circle using the Buddhist praying person stamp, representing adoration, surrender, love, peace, etc. It was happenstance that I thought to put an arch over each one… Then blending a lighter purple at the tip of the arch seemed to give it a spiritual, temple-type feeling.

Lots of little “V”s all point towards the center, reminding us where we need to focus. Although there are a line of “V”s also radiating out from the Madonna’s circle, reflecting her love for us.

Opps… this is probable WAY TOO MUCH info! I can get carried away with symbolism. I like my paintings to mean something I guess. 

Thanks for sticking in with the loonnngg read! You’re the BEST!

PS… (sorry) I worked on this in class, at home, at the beach in Pescadero, and two full (6 hours or so) days at Yosemite.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


And this is the picture I'm trying to paint! Wish me luck! I'll post when I get it ready enough to show off. I tend to go over the top and try to do too much... we'll see!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sacred Black Madona Mandala

Ok... so I've started a new piece of work, actually for my class project. Is supposed to involve repeat patterns, etc. I decided to do a four part mandala, first on paper, then I'll adhere it to a cradle board. It's a larger project, so each quarter will be 15x15", making it just over 30" when it's hung together.

My professor says he likes the "economy of paper" and I'm learning so too!  I was a bit afraid that the idea wouldn't pan out, but it looks good so far.  Idea: to use the head of the Mother Mary I painted last spring in the center corner of each quarter, and to use her hands in one of the concentric circles farther out on the wheel.  I plan to repeat the patterns I've found between the quarters, elsewhere on the Mandala.

So today I took the van to the beach for uninterrupted painting time... It was so beautiful! and I had a good six hours to work.  I had already painted the black background and the huge red center with many layers of glazes.  I want to build up many layers, so it looks rich, full, complicated, sacred, and old.

I fooled around with the image in Photoshop and loved the black image with colorful lines all over the place. So I traced her face and hands and started painting.  She kinda turned into a Black Madona... I like when the painting tells YOU what to do.

Here are the pics so far:
 Here you can partially see my exclusive view!
 This is what the four pieces look like so far....
 Her underpainting started with the red background, then I used a dark turquoise, then a light aqua, even though it looks very blue here. Her halo also is gold, not chalky white. Her veil is actually a deep purple. I'll be lightening that.  This is all still just underpainting... many layers of color will follow. (It may take me till Spring!)
This partially shows the sketch of her hand repeat... I'm thinking of ideas for filling in the spaces. This is a Mandala remember, so I have LOTS of opportunity for embellishments!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

HOORAY! I did it!!

Yes, I've finally given up on Ebay and have renewed and refreshed my ETSY Shop! Please stop by and tell me what you think!  Here are two new paintings I'm listing tonight. More to come!  MY ETSY SHOP LINK
In the mean time, thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Elain Drew, Dream Journaling and Yosemite Pinecones

Throughout the summer, Yosemite Art Center provides wonderful FREE! art lessons taught by fabulous teachers! Last week was my third visit and I was honored to spend over four hours with Elaine Drew. We settled under the pine trees on the edge of a meadow with Half Dome as our backdrop. Surrounded by magnificent vistas, we brought our gaze (Zen style) down to the Sacred Geometry of a single pine cone.

People are scurrying through the Valley, snapping pictures everywhere.  Somehow, spending four hours gazing at a single pine cone brought me to new depths of appreciation for Nature and the splendors of Yosemite.  

I shared some wonderful conversations with Elaine and a few of the other students that day. While showing Elaine my little travel art journal, she shared about her Dream Art Journaling.  I've recorded my dreams for introspection, but I've never thought to draw or sketch images from the dream. So, it was a double blessing received! 

Check out Elaine's Daily Dreamer website!
Sweet blessings.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Morning on Lake Tenaya

Snug in my new Camper Van... here are the awesome views!  I stayed here all morning and wrote, meditated and just sat drinking my coffee.  I chatted with a lovely Canadian lady who is visiting our National Parks, traveling alone, and she is 70! Just love it!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

God's Zendoodles!

Took this picture at the Olmstead Lookout in the Yosemite High Country.  Looks like God has been Zendoodling! or a board game for the Angels?

Monday, September 6, 2010

A LOVELY Holiday Morning!

It's absolutely lovely at the moment! Can't resist sharing a picture of my morning view!  
 During the high summer months, the first light is always reflected on the distant Redwoods first. Now that the sun is slightly lower in the Eastern morning sky, it's illuminating the trees nearest me first! What a spectacular gift!
So, I'm lazing in bed, 8am, way late for me! Thought I'd share some of yesterday's work. (Oh, good news, I sold another painting and an altered journal in the shop yesterday... Yay!)

 So, school started last week and I'm really excited about my classes. Thought I'd start with a beginner's mind and take a basic painting class.  This teacher is amazing, already I've learned the concept of a "double primary" pallet. (duh!) A warm red & cool red, warm blue, cool blue, warm/cool yellows. I challenged him to make an ochre... a color I've never been able to mis (double duh!)... needless to say, he demoed all kinds of hard to mix colors. (So, I'm really excited to forget everything I've always known, and start fresh!)

The second studio art class is a fibers class. We're starting by reconstructing a favorite piece of clothing to create an autobiographical garment. I'm taking apart my favorite painting shirt and plan to add lots of embellishments (Rosemary Eichorn style).

So both classes need a sketch journal for ideas and such. I decided to use one hard cover journal, blank pages, and simply turn it over for each class. Did I describe that right? Painting notes on one side, flip the book over and upside down, and fiber notes on the other.  Here's the basic black journal.

Of course I had to decorate the book for each class....

 Here is the FIBERS side. Lots of aged fabrics and some papers. A cemetery angel pic I took years ago, vintage lace, etc.  I'm not happy with the stamping of the word FIBER... I might go back and lay in some paint.

So this is layers and layers of water color paper that I've stamped on, applied papers to, etc.  It's hard to see, but the mask is actually decorating a library card envelope. Thought I could put some tags in it, with class notes or something.  I started with a piece of watercolor paper and painted that basic double-primary, cools on the left and warms on the right. I think it looks a bit garish at the moment.  Still have work to do, grunge the edges maybe. Any thoughts? (Please comment!)

Here it is with one of the tags I made. The tags are too big though. I can't get all three (double-primaries again) to fit.

Add caption
 I liked how Mystele included a piece of graph paper in her adorable little cards. I'm thrilled to own several very small samples of her work!
Check her "Little Glimpses" Etsy shop!

Well, time to get the show on the road.  
Art Studio? I hear you calling! 
Please leave a comment! 
I really appreciate the feedback!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Folk Art meets Gut Art!

Two of my very favorite artists and tutors are Mystele and PJ Hornberger.  Mystele has taught me how to let go and paint from the gut. And PJ, well her humor and laughter has accompanied many videos from how to doodle to a look around her folk art studio.  (Check out both of these artists for their amazing talent and inspiration!)

So, at the beach a few days ago, up popped these few ladies. I'm calling them the "Six Sisters of Serendipity." Oh, yes, I know they don't have faces. Faces are hard, hard, hard for me. I can do them, but it takes me forever... so I'm trying to convey personality by the tilt of the head, or by the style of their outfits.

Then, playing around with some folk art paints... I wasn't really painting on a rubber tub. I stopped at Joann's on the way camping and picked up a huge book of papers for less than half price. So, clothing these three ladies was like playing paper dolls... except I was battling against the ocean winds! Mytelle would grunge these up a bit I'm sure... but then, I also liked the clean, crisp, folk artish look. Actually, it was all very intentional, not so from-the-gut, but Mystele has helped me learn to loosen way up!

Then, yesterday was a wonderful dinner out with friends, celebrating both Kathleen and Darleen's birthdays... both are dealers in my shop, so it was a fun afternoon creating their gifts.  I love playing around with the papers to create interesting outfits. I took a photo of our shop, taken during the 4th of July parade, and created their destination. To save time, I printed their little blurbs on my computer.  Both friends loved their paintings, but I had to bring them home to put the hangers on.

Art Journal - Visual Journal - Art on the go!

I am just loving my little art journal. It goes everywhere with me, along with my teensie-tiny little watercolor box and travel brush that has water inside it! I never have to fool with pouring, carrying or messing with water! The whole little travel kit fits snugly in my purse so I can pull it out when ever.

There are several great books and wonderful teachers who offer amazing techniques for Visual Journals... but I kinda like the niche I'm in. I just like to capture my thoughts and responses to both what I see and how I feel. I found that once I got my materials together, it actually comes quite easy. Of course, I'm not doing allot of cutting and pasting, mixed media and all... just simple pen and watercolor.

This was from my first trip to Bodega mid July.....
And this was done in the middle of the night before my trip to Yosemite. I was so excited, I couldn't sleep!

This entry was very joyful for me. My little cousin Christina is very shy about anyone seeing her art work... so I came up with this idea.....

Being a doodler... I like that my pages don't always have to be serious, or even about me trying to duplicate something I see. Actually, David Deyel, my last Yosemite Art teacher, said he never tries to paint details, because he's NOT A CAMERA. I love that! I like the idea of painting what my feelings are responding to, rather than mimic details.

 But, I wasn't looking at anything... just doodling here..... pure fun.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A picture says a thousand words!

Not much I can say. This was an amazing campsite! I never put the top on my tent... with the full moon I could bathe in Moonlight all night long.  Sounds of the surf, fog horn sounding every 10 seconds, seals barking at each other, and the seagulls calling. I was in bliss. I am so thankful for the opportunity to appreciate this beautiful planet. Got a little bit of art work done, but mostly read and wrote. Did do some fun art/journal entries. I'll share those soon.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Refreshed Studio in the Redwooods

Tomorrow I'm leaving on another mini self directed art retreat. Then school begins a week from today!! Taking a mixed media class, so I really needed to spiff up my studio. Took out the tall and big easel, since I like to work off a desk.  Also, took back the fab art table since my honey wasn't using it.

Thank God for Honey though!! Here he is putting up one of about a dozen shelves!

So, a little bit of sage to smudge and a prayer or gratitude....
Freshly cleaned off... now that I have a place for most things!
This is my dad's old desk.
The fabulous glass art desk! and I'm using the three shelf vintage kitchen cart. I can get ALLOT of stuff on there. I gave up the taboreh thingy... Liked the idea of it, but my granddaughter loves it more (for her hair stuff)!
An old fruit crate, painted white makes a great shelf. The cart with the pens and pencils pulls out to access the one in the corner. My computer has a safe place now, instead of teetering on top of a pile of canvases.

More shelves, and more work surface for mixed media stuff.

A peek around the other side... even hung some of my practice/fun pieces.

Here's a look at the table top we picked up for $2 this weekend! My containers break down and fit nicely underneath.

So here's the long view... a cleaned up space, just waiting for my inspirations and creations!

Last note... notice the red tubs. I picked up eight of them for 50cents each!! So great for storage!

Tomorrow I am off to my ocean front campsite at Bodega Bay.  Been visioning that for the last two weeks! Hoping for more sun than fog... but also looking forward to the fog horn and seagulls!  I'll see if I can post a movie clip.
Sweet Blessings to you!